By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 16, 2007 - Coalition forces yesterday captured a man suspected of being behind the Sept. 13 assassination of Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, an influential Sunni leader who helped fight Al Qaeda in Iraq's Anbar Forces, officials in Baghdad announced during a briefing today. "Investigative and intelligence reports indicate Fallah Khalifa Hiyas Fayyas al-Jumayli, also known as Abu Khamis, was involved the planning and execution of the plot to kill the sheik and was also plotting to kill other leaders of the Anbar Awakening Council as well," said Navy Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, Multi-National Force Iraq spokesman.
Intelligence indicates that "Abu Khamis was also involved in organized activity creating car bombs and suicide vest attacks in Al Anbar province," Fox said.
The admiral called Sattar a "key ally in the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq" and offered his condolences to the sheik's family. Sattar and his followers rejected the violence of Al Qaeda and worked to bring peace and prosperity to their province. Their efforts helped create what became known as the "Anbar Awakening," in which violence in the province was reduced dramatically as local leaders cooperated with coalition forces to root out terrorists.
Just 10 days before his assassination, Sattar and other Anbar leaders took part in a Labor Day meeting with President Bush on Al Asad Air Base. The sheik also participated in the Ramadi Reconstruction Conference with leaders of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division and Multinational Force West earlier in the year.
"As the principal founder and chairman of the Al Anbar awakening council, Sheik Sattar was a brave Iraqi who fearlessly worked to bring security and stability to the province," Fox said. "We stand in solidarity with all Iraqis in expressing our sorrow at this barbaric and senseless killing. We honor Sheik Sattar's courage and sacrifice."
Fox said Sattar was "martyred in the cause of peace in Iraq."